Retailers are generally focused on retaining customers and growing their customer base, which they should to maintain a healthy business.  There is another group that also requires focus on retention and that is your partners, including suppliers, carriers and third party logistics providers.  These partners are also required to maintain a healthy and growing business, however sometimes this requirement gets lost in the fog of all the other activities.  It is important to retain your partners in your extended network and this is where your collaboration principles and efforts really should be leveraged to deliver value and  encourage partners to participate.  The active participation of your partners will encourage and ensure their long term retention.

Customer retention is a common theme in the retail environment, I think though that partner retention is next in line in level of importance and I also think there is not nearly enough focus on the importance of retaining partners.  We have entered into a ‘shared economy’ environment where people share their homes, their jobs, their cars and basically anything else that technology can measure and implement a sales model.  Your collaborative partners are another important aspect of this environment and this requires a focus and investment in time and thought to encourage and maintain a participation.  You can’t simply throw out a comment that you want to partner with another person or company, there must be an affinity and a benefit resulting from this partnership and collaboration.

Each company starts with a large group of other companies that they interact with on a regular basis such as manufacturers, suppliers, designers, retailers, advertisers, customers and many others and these related people, organizations and companies provide the basis for your collaborative partner network, in other words it provides the basis for the partnership.  There is, however, a great deal of coordination and effort involved in creating, maintaining and growing the collaborative partnership.  This effort is critical to retaining the partners in your collaborative network and requires regular care and feeding in order to maintain the network and retain the partner members of this network. 

Retaining the partners in your collaborative network requires give a take among and across the network and the a key basis for the retention is the value that is delivered to the partners in the network.  The value can come in many forms such as cost reductions or business growth but there must be a value returned in order for your partners to continue to participate.  It is important that each member in the partnership remember this caveate and it is also equally important that each member participate in the network to maintain this value equation, the value cannot be achieved without the active participation of the members.

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?